When planning out your Denver landscape design, more and more homeowners are opting to incorporate elements of a sustainable landscape design. But what does this actually mean? And just as importantly, what does it look like?
Sustainability is more important than ever as our natural environment faces a range of threats. From pollution, habitat loss, plastics in our oceans, to the effects of a changing climate, we all need to do our part to act in a sustainable fashion—in all facets of our lives. This includes your landscape design.
But many homeowners may initially be conflicted as to whether or not they can still create the landscape of their dreams while sticking to sustainable practices. Well, the truth is, it’s easier than ever to design a landscape that is both sustainable and beautiful. In fact, in many ways, a sustainable landscape can be even more appealing and enjoyable as it works in a more positive way with your surrounding local environment. Here, we’re taking a closer look at sustainability and how you can incorporate these important elements into your Colorado landscape design. You’ll be amazed at how easy—and affordable—a sustainable landscape can be.
Let’s start at the beginning—what exactly is the concept of sustainability? According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sustainability is founded on one core principle: either directly or indirectly, everything that we rely on for our survival and wellbeing is provided to us by our planet. However, as more people move to cities and we spend more time indoors, it often becomes easy to forget about this essential relationship with the natural world that surrounds us.
Sustainability asks us to recognize, and value, our relationship with the natural world so we can take steps to protect every living thing on this planet. Sustainability focuses on how all life is truly connected. Thus, our survival depends on the survival of other species as they provide the materials we need to make our lives function. Sustainability pushes us to find balance with our natural world so that we can then make smart choices throughout our daily lives to protect all forms of life—no matter how small.
Thus, sustainable landscaping is the practice of applying sustainable ideas and methods into the development and maintenance of your yard, gardens, and overall home and landscape design. Sustainable landscaping includes the plants you grow, the materials you use, the methods you utilize to protect your landscape, and more.
Sustainable landscaping encourages individuals to make decisions that put their landscape into closer harmony with the surrounding environment. This can mean preserving natural resources and using fewer harmful chemicals that can easily get into the local water supply. Sustainable landscaping can take so many different shapes and forms.
At this point you may be thinking, sure, a sustainable landscape sounds good—but what exactly does it look like in practice? Will it limit my choices or my overall aesthetic appeal? But sustainable advocates would argue that making your outdoor space sustainable makes it even more beautiful because you’re essentially working with the rules of nature and your local environment—not against them.
One example is water use. Many falsely believe that a sustainable landscape has to use virtually zero extra water or irrigation. But this isn’t true. Instead, a sustainable landscape encourages homeowners to consider ways to use water more wisely. Conservation is key here as you can work to preserve our most precious resource while also saving you some cash on your monthly water bill. For example, to conserve water you can set up rain barrels to collect rainwater, only use sprinklers early morning or late afternoon (to prevent evaporation loss), and use native plants that may require less water. Not only that, but native plants are well-adapted to your local environment, which means they have a much better chance of thriving in your local climate conditions.
Another example is your paving. Are you choosing bricks or gravel for your walkways? Well, why not gravel? Just as appealing as other materials, gravel can be more sustainable because it’s permeable, which means it allows rainwater to pass through into the ground and soil. This works to prevent runoff (which can cause erosion and flooding) and even helps nutrients and water reach your soil and the water table below. It also reduces the runoff that can cause pesticides and chemicals to get into local water supplies.
Using native plants, trees, and flowers throughout your landscape is another great move toward sustainability. Not only do they have a higher chance of thriving in your outdoor space, but they also require less water, chemicals, and overall maintenance since they’ve already evolved to your microclimate. They can also serve as a habitat for local insects, birds, and even small mammals, which helps to restore some habitat loss and helps the survival of these creatures.
Now more than ever, it’s essential that we all do our part to protect our planet and our vital natural resources. While it may seem like one home may not make much of a difference, every little bit does make an impact in the big picture. Thus, every homeowner should consider ways that they can make their homes and landscapes more sustainable.
Luckily, there are easy, practical, and even aesthetically pleasing methods for designing a sustainable landscape that could become the envy of your neighbors. Try to conserve water, set up rain barrels, use permeable paving surfaces, plant native flowers and trees, and reduce the amount of fertilizers and pesticides you use throughout your property. Not only will you be saving time, energy, and cash, but you’ll also be helping preserve the one place that we all, at the end of the day, call home.